The next miracle (v11.1): Owen Youngman

Knight Professor of Digital Media Strategy, Medill / Northwestern

Owen YoungmanOwen YoungmanOwen Youngman

So what are you seeing in your Google Glass?

Sandia Mountains

The Sandia Mountains near Santa Fe, #throughglass

The Glass Chronicles, III: Summer of #glass

Okay, so I didn’t take Google Glass to Italy in July. It seemed to me, as I was packing, that I wanted neither the distraction of explaining it to security guards, nor the potential data-roaming charges from tethering it to my iPhone as I was wandering around Milan, Venice, Florence, and Rome. (Also, after a solid month of videotaping lectures for my MOOC about the media and Google, the idea of taking the device threatened to make the trip feel like work instead of vacation.) In retrospect, however, I can see that my fellow tourists might have had some good ideas about how to deploy it, and that the convenience of hands-free operation of a good digital camera might have been  worthwhile … as long as I didn’t turn into one of those people who snaps photos inside the Uffizi without actually looking at the art.

Santa Fe Opera #throughglass

Santa Fe Opera, #throughglass

That lesson learned, it was an easier call to take Glass to Santa Fe for a couple of weeks in August. First of all, there was the necessity of actually using the add-on sunglasses that I modeled in my previous post. Second, no roaming charges, even while roaming near the Santa Fe Opera. And third, what a fine place to get a few more ideas from “real people.” One outcome is that I decided that the results of Medill’s spring survey of mobile users about Glass are pretty much on the money: Easily half of the people I encountered knew exactly what I was wearing — and  most of them claimed interest in joining the ranks of the Glassy-eyed. (Well, maybe not the cashier in the chocolate shop, but definitely the one in the jewelry store.) Continue reading

Further adventures in the land of the MOOC

Friday when I went by my office at Medill, I found this image taped to the doorjamb. One of my colleagues had cheerfully appended a headline: “OWEN YOUNGMAN: A MAN AND HIS MOOC.”

Either that, or by the looks of it, a man transfixed by what he sees through his Google Glass.

In either event, two days earlier I had taken to social media to note that the long path to launching “my” (and Medill’s, and Northwestern’s) first massively open online course had briefly wound from a thicket into a clearing. The team from NUIT NUAMPS ( the Northwestern University Advanced Media Production Studio) had finished capturing my last planned Google+ Hangout-based interview, the last of more than 20 planned video elements. The night before, we’d confirmed a Sept. 16 launch date for the six-week course.

(You have enrolled, right? You’ve at least watched the updated promotional video? I’ll wait here.) Continue reading

Hail, Glass of 2013

The Glass Chronicles, II: Land of Stares and Sharing

Glass observers at graduation

I’ve never seen that before — have you? Maybe we should take a picture….

Commencement comes late to Northwestern. I mean, was anybody else in America actually hanging around school last week? For example, by the time I got to Medill for its two convocations on Saturday, it had been six weeks since I attended graduation ceremonies in historic Hinkle Fieldhouse at Butler University, where nephew Tim has been pursuing his master’s degree in music composition.

This year’s wait wound up being beneficial, however, due to an accident of timing. Graduation arrived just 3 days after Google Glass, giving your intrepid reporter a chance to try it out in a large crowd at a substantial public event and pursue the answers to a few carefully selected questions:

  • How well would it “go” with academic regalia,
    Photo by Rich Gordon

    Photo by Rich Gordon (Click image for larger view)

    which after all were the height of style in the 12th and 13th Centuries more than the 21st? Continue reading

The world – – well, the Web – – #throughglass

The Glass Chronicles, I: Land of Stares and Data

Owen Youngman at Google New York to pick up Google Glass

Glass, meet Owen. Owen, meet Glass.

Wednesday, June 19 — my grades turned in, and commencement yet to come — I headed to Google’s Chelsea Market space in New York City, across the street from the massive New York headquarters building the company bought for $1.9 billion in 2010 (check out Andrew Blum’s book “Tubes” to learn an interesting reason the location is important).  I had a 2 p.m. appointment, you see, with a product I had just purchased:

Google Glass.

I don’t actually know if the implied drama of that two-word paragraph is justified, but then again I didn’t want to bury the lede in this first consideration of a highly anticipated, yet highly controversial, piece of consumer technology.

Mark Skala of Northwestern, who is directing the videos of my lectures for my upcoming Coursera MOOC, had come along, too, looking for some images and some B-roll. And so it was, after refueling at the Starbucks in the main Google building, that we made our way to the world of Glass.

The first question my longtime colleague, digital-advertising visionary Kurt Fliegel, asked when he saw what I was up to on Facebook was straightforward enough:


Continue reading

Medill, MOOCs, and me

Post University cartoon by Dave Blazek is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at

(Post University cartoon/Dave Blazek, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.)

If you are even a casual reader of stories about higher education, you have been encountering a lot of stories lately about “massively open online courses,” or MOOCs. These experiments in Web-centric learning allow people (often lots of them) to enroll (often for free) in courses taught through colleges and universities (often well-known ones).

  • Proponents generally hail MOOCs for their promise in “bringing scale to education” and for potentially removing barriers like time, money, and geography that have stood in the way of self-improvement for many people around the world.
  • Skeptics often dispute the idea that they offer much education at all, noting that there seems to be more curiosity than commitment among the enrollees (the vast majority of whom do not finish, and some of whom do not start, the courses they sign up for).

There are many nuances to the arguments and observations of both camps, of course . . . and there are far more camps than two. For example, there’s the camp that says the M stands for “massive” and modifies “courses,” and the camp that says it stands for “massively” and modifies “open.” (The first construction shows up more often in Lexis-Nexis, but the citations for the second are earlier.)

And of course online teaching has been around in one form or another for a long time already, and not just as a sideline or sideshow. Continue reading